Study reveals there is one doctor for every 640 people in Turkey

A shortage in the number of doctors remains a big problem in Turkey as the country has only one doctor for every 640 people.

March 14, 2011, Monday/ 16:49:00

Research recently conducted by the Turkish Health Care Workers’ Union (Türk Sağlık-Sen) has revealed that there is only doctor for every 640 people in Turkey, which has a population of around 70 million people.

Türk Sağlık-Sen carried out the survey on the occasion of Turkey’s annual Medicine Festival, which is marked today.

According to the results of the survey, there are 115,256 doctors in Turkey, 67,667 of whom (29,526 specialists, 30,830 practitioners and 7,311 assistants) are employed by the Health Ministry. Of the doctors, 25,015 are employed at university hospitals, while 22,574 are employed by the private sector. This indicates that there is only one doctor for every 640 people in Turkey, when only Health Ministry doctors are taken into account, the number rises to 1,089 per doctor.

The research also looked at the distribution of Heath Ministry doctors across different provinces, as well as including information about doctors who were either newly-appointed or retired in 2010.

When only Health Ministry doctors are taken into account, the eastern province of Bayburt has the fewest with 78 doctors. Bayburt is followed by Ardahan with 87 doctors and then Hakkari with 104 doctors. İstanbul has the most doctors with 12,498, followed by Ankara with 7,568 doctors and then İzmir with 4,736 doctors.

The survey shows that 57 percent of all Health Ministry doctors, which make up 38,881 of the 67,667 doctors, are employed in 16 metropolitan provinces. Fifty-eight percent of the specialists, 47 percent of the practitioners and 98 percent of the assistant doctors are working in metropolitan provinces.

According to the survey, 10,757 doctors were appointed by the Health Ministry last year, 5,767 of whom were specialists and 4,990 practitioners. A total of 5,439 doctors, 2,768 of whom were specialists and 2,761 of whom were practitioners, left their positions. Health Ministry hospitals saw 3,637 doctors, 843 specialists and 749 practitioners resign from their positions, while 772 doctors retired and the rest left their jobs due to other reasons.

Türk Sağlık-Sen President Önder Kahveci said that doctors in Turkey are struggling with various problems. “There are 115,000 doctors in Turkey. Doctors, whether they are professors or assistants, working in Hakkari or Ankara, as university doctors or family practitioners, face problems. They are being victimized for various reasons. Instead of discussing proposals such as bringing foreign doctors to Turkey to solve the doctor shortage, we need to seek ways to raise the number of doctors with our own resources,” he said.

In the meantime, today marks the annual Medicine Festival in Turkey. March 14 was chosen for the festival because the first medical school was opened in İstanbul on this day in 1827. The Medicine Festival was first observed with a political message at the end of World War I. The students of the first medical school used the occasion in 1919 to protest the British occupation of İstanbul.

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